Treatment of post-shunt portal-systemic encephalopathy by embolization of the shunt



Operative ligation of portosystemic shunts is effective in controlling chronic portosystemic encephalopathy (CPSE) but is associated with significant mortality. Review of the records of five paients with CPSE treated with radiologic occlusion procedures showed that these are suitable alternatives to surgery. Three patients had alcoholic cirrhosis, one had hepatic fibrosis from schistosomiasis, and one had post-necrotic cirrhosis. All had CPSE with progressive, severe cerebral impairment refractory to clinical treatment. Four patients had a spontaneous splenorenal shunt, and one had a surgically created mesocaval shunt (MCS). Partial splenic embolization was performed in two patients, direct shunt embolization was performed via percutaneous transhepatic portography in two other patients, and an MCS embolization was performed in one patient through the inferior vena cava. In four patients embolization controlled the CPSE. In the remaining patient it could not be evaluated because of his premature death from intraabdominal bleeding, a late complication of the procedure. Interventional radiologic procedures are effective in the control of CPSE in selected patients.